A Channel island with a fascinating history
Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands which lie in the English Channel to the northwest of France. Geographically, it is much closer to France than to Britain; this is reflected in the many French place-names, in the cuisine and by the fact that both English and French are the official languages. However, it is ruled neither by London nor by Paris, being a self-governing Crown Dependency. This 16km x 10km island is home to 90,000 people and has the town of St Helier as its capital. Offshore finance and tourism are the main industries; however the island is also famous for its Jersey cattle, and milk production is a major earner. The island’s gentle terrain and mild weather make it an agreeable and relaxing holiday destination. It is famous as the setting for the 1970s British TV detective series, Bergerac.
Go for the gentle scenery, the sea views and for the history. Visit Mont Orgeuil Castle, which resisted French attacks for 6 centuries. Plunge into the Jersey War Tunnels or admire the Occupation Tapestry; these tell the story of the island’s occupation by Nazi forces during the Second World War.
When to go?
Jersey enjoys mild winters and cool summers, with an average annual temperature of 12°C. The best weather occurs in the period April-September. Go in September for the spectacular sights of the International Air Display and the Jersey Regatta. If you are a gourmet diner, go in October/November for the Tennerfest, which offers special rates at the island’s many world-class restaurants.
How to get there?
The island is served by Jersey Airport (JER), which lies 7 km north of St Helier. In addition to flights from all over the UK, you can also fly from Dublin, Zurich, Geneva, Paris, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Hanover and Rotterdam; many of these only operate during the summer months. Once on the island, you can get around by hire car (note that the speed limit is 40 mph!), or by bus, taxi or bicycle.
Climb the battlements or watch a historic reenactment at the 16th Century Elizabeth Castle, which can be reached on foot at low-tide and by ferry at high-tide. Why not cycle the 7 km from St Helier to The Maritime Museum/Art Gallery to find out more about Jersey’s seafaring heritage? The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust Zoo, set up by famous naturalist Gerald Durrell, is dedicated to the preservation of endangered species and is a must for junior visitors.